U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Substance Abuse and Treatment of State and Federal Prisoners, 1997

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 10:00 A.M. EST         BJS
TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 1999            202/307-0784
    

MORE THAN THREE-QUARTERS OF PRISONERS
HAD ABUSED DRUGS IN THE PAST

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   Fifty-seven percent of
state prisoners and  45 percent of federal
prisoners surveyed in 1997 said they had used
drugs in the month before their offense--up from
50 percent and  32 percent reported in a 1991
survey,  the Justice Department's Bureau of
Justice Statistics (BJS) said today.  Eighty-three
percent of state prisoners and 73 percent of
federal prisoners had used drugs at some time in
the past.

     In 1997, 33 percent of state and 22 percent
of federal prisoners said  they committed their
current offense while under the influence of
drugs, compared to 31 percent and 17 percent in
1991,  and about one in six of both state and
federal inmates said in 1997 they committed their
offense to get money for drugs.   

     According to this special BJS substance abuse
report, about three-quarters of all prisoners can
be characterized as being involved with alcohol or
drug abuse in the time leading up to their arrest. 
Sixty-four percent of state prisoners and 59
percent of federal prisoners reported having 
driven an automobile or other motor vehicle at one
time or another while under the influence of
alcohol or drugs.

     Even with an increase in reported drug and
alcohol use between 1991 and 1997, substance abuse
treatment provided to state and federal prisoners
declined.  However, there was increased 
participation in self-help, education or awareness
programs for drug and alcohol abuse.

     Among those prisoners who had been using
drugs in the month before their offense, 15 
percent of both state and federal inmates said
they had received drug abuse treatment during
their current prison term--down from a third of
such prisoners in 1991.  Among those who said  
they had used drugs in the month before their
offense, 28 percent of the state inmates and 32
percent of the federal inmates said in the 1997
survey that they had participated in a self-help
group or drug awareness program.

     Eighteen percent of both state and federal
inmates who said in 1997 that they had been using
drugs at the time of their offense reported
participation in drug treatment programs, compared
to about 40 percent in 1991.  In 1997, among such
prisoners, 32 percent of state inmates and 38
percent of federal inmates reported participating
in a self-help, peer counseling, education or
awareness program since admission.

     Since their admission to prison nearly a
quarter of state inmates and 20 percent of federal
inmates had been in treatment or other programs
for alcohol abuse.  Among those with a history  
of alcohol abuse or dependence, more than 40
percent reported taking part in a treatment or
alcohol-related program since admission.

     More than 277,000 offenders were in prison
for a drug law violation in 1997--21 percent of
state prisoners and over 60 percent of federal
prisoners.  The majority of these inmates were 
serving time for drug trafficking or possession
with intent to distribute (70 percent of state
drug offenders and 86 percent of federal).  More 
than two-thirds of state and federal drug offenders
reported that they possessed or were trafficking
in cocaine or crack during their current offense.

     In 1997 more than 80 percent of state
prisoners and more than 70 percent of federal
prisoners reported some type of past drug use. 
Twenty percent of state prisoners and 12 percent
of federal prisoners said they had used drugs
intravenously.

     A quarter of state and a sixth of federal
prisoners reported experiences consistent with a
history of alcohol abuse or dependence.  Forty-one
percent of state prisoners and 30 percent of 
federal prisoners reported having consumed as much
as a fifth of liquor in a single day (20 drinks, 3
six-packs of beer or 3 bottles of wine).  Forty
percent of state prisoners and 29 percent of 
federal prisoners reported having had a past
alcohol-related domestic dispute.

     With the exception of marijuana use, reported
drug use among state prisoners remained stable
after 1991. The percentage of state inmates who
used marijuana in the month before their offense
rose sharply--from 32 percent in 1991 to 39
percent in 1997.  During the same period, 
the percentage of state prisoners who used cocaine
or crack in the month before the offense 
remained unchanged at 25 percent.

     Among federal prisoners, the reported  prior
use of all drug types rose, with marijuana and
cocaine-based drugs leading the trend.  In 1997, 
30 percent of federal prisoners said they had 
used marijuana in the month before the offense and
20 percent said they used cocaine or crack,
compared to 19 percent and 15 percent,
respectively, in 1991.

     The special report, "Substance Abuse and
Treatment, State and Federal Prisoners, 1997" 
(NCJ-172871), was written by BJS Policy Analyst
Christopher J. Mumola.  Single copies may be
obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at
1-800/732-3277.  It is also available on the
Internet.  The BJS webpage address is: 

       http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/

     Additional criminal justice materials can be
obtained from the Office of Justice Programs
Internet homepage at: 

        http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov

                  # # # 

After hours contact:  Stu Smith at 301/983-9354

(END OF FILE)
Date Created: May 27, 2009